April 14, 1997
BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. – A view from a broad is back. Some still remember that April night in 1973 when a relatively unknown Bette Midler, backed by three girls she called the Harlettes, was on the stage of Chrysler Hall in Norfolk, Va.
It was a warm up for what would be her star-making opening at New Yorkâ€™s Palace Theater two weeks later. The â€œproduction valuesâ€ consisted of two palm trees and a recording of birds chirping in the background.
â€œThese girls are FILTHY,â€ she said of her ensemble. â€œSimply filthy. They come here directly from Disneyland, where they were a ride.â€
It was the no-holds-barred, bawdy Bette â€” the self-proclaimed â€œtrash with flash,â€ the Divine Miss M. She played the audience like it was her own CD. No other performer of the 1970s so completely pricked the balloons of pomposity as this little bundle of stage wildcat.
Nothing was sacred to her as she successfully lampooned everything from the White House to the outhouse Sitting in the Four SeasonsÂ Hotel in Beverly Hills last week, the 1997 edition of Bette Midler looked trim and very blond. â€œI know youâ€™re thinking to yourself,Â ‘How old is this woman, anyway?â€™â€ she cracked. â€œWell, honey, I look a good deal better than Creedence Clearwater Revival. A good deal better.â€
Midler is currently in T h a t Old Feelingâ€ in movie houses, a movie that she claims â€œfulfills my desire to do something broad. I like characters who are way over the top. She doesnâ€™t hold anything back. And itâ€™s nice to be back in high heels, too. This woman Wears some nice threads. Itâ€™s the type movie I think is right for me to do right now.â€
Sheâ€™s coming ofT â€œFirst Wives Club,â€ a big hit (over $100 million gross).
â€œYes. Yes. I’llÂ admit it. It was a big hit. Iâ€™ve had the depths and then Iâ€™ve had â€˜First Wives Club.â€™ I knew it was a natural.
There are a lot of angry women around, and they were rooting for us. Iâ€™ve been saying for years, â€˜What are we, girls, but waitresses at the banquet of life?* I mean, I knew this picture couldnâ€™t flop. And the three girls really got along well. Diane (Diane Keaton) is so low-key. I mean she hasnâ€™t even SEEN movies that she was in. Iâ€™d look at the videos, and Iâ€™d say â€˜Itâ€™s OK, girls. But letâ€™s do it again.â€™
At 50, Midler is showing no signs of slowing down. â€œIâ€™ve got bills to pay and a family to feed, after all, and making movies isÂ nothing to touring â€